Ghana pharmaceutical industry players have called on the government to provide basic infrastructure and incentives to pharmaceutical companies to produce medicines and other pharmaceutical products locally to make Ghana the pharmaceutical hub of West Africa.
According to them, 70 percent of pharmaceutical products used in the country were imported with only 30 percent produced locally.
Mr. William Adum Addo, President of Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association, in his contribution to a panel discussion on the topic: “Opportunities and Gaps in the Pharmaceutical Business in Ghana” during the West Africa Pharma and Healthcare Exhibition in Accra, said Ghana’s annual importation of pharmaceuticals ranged between 500 million and 600 million dollars and expected to increase as population grow.
Mr. Addo, double as the Chief Executive Officer of J. M Addo and Sons Limited, said Ghana was an emerging market for pharmaceutical products in the sub-region, but there should be calculated efforts to encourage more pharmaceutical entrepreneurs to enter the business.
Mr. Kwadwo Asare Twerefour, the Managing Director of Entrance Pharmaceuticals, a member of Tobinco Group of Companies, said it took approximately three months to import medicines and other pharmaceuticals into the country.
He, however, bemoaned the 24 percent interest rate charged by some banks on loans as a major disincentive and called for a reduction to encourage entrepreneurs to enter the manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals domestically.
"The 24 percent interest rate charged by some banks is too much at least there should be a reasonable interest rate between 10 and 12 percent per annum for pharmaceutical entrepreneurs who want to set up manufacturing plants, and there should also be a dedicated shipping line and a railway to facilitate the distribution of pharmaceutical products within the West African Sub-region", he started.
On his part, Mr. Daniel Appiah, Head of Business and SME Banking at the CalBank, explained most health facilities in the country did not prepare well in terms of financial to run their institutions.
“Most of the time, the CEO of the Founder of the health facility is acting as the accountant, marketing officer, procurement officer, and there is no successive plan over the ownership of the institution,” Mr. Appiah noted.
Mr. Appiah said when there was no well-structured governance system in place it was difficult for banks or financial institutions to advance loans to them.
He urged all private health facilities to establish well-structured governance structures, business plans, and successive plans on ownership to enable them to get financial support.
Despite the challenges in the sector Mr. Thomas James, Project Director of West Africa Pharma and Healthcare Exhibition, urged shareholders in the pharmaceutical industry to take up any opportunity presented to them and utilise it.